Manipulating Software Through Design Patterns

I wrote about design patterns a few days back. There are endless benefits of applying design patterns to your software that are reported in the literature. When you appropriately apply design patterns to your software, it becomes easy for other software engineers to use it provided they have some awareness of them.

I am going to reflect on one less obvious but extremely useful benefit of patterns. It may happen often in your career as a software developer or a software engineer that you may be enticed to use an already developed piece of software for your project. You might be required to develop something specific and you may find that parts of what you want to develop can be addressed by using open source software that is available online. This can be a great help for you as you may not have to rewrite the code.

A good example that comes to my mind is that you want to develop an ecosystem simulation toolkit. Instead of developing everything from scratch, you may find a certain library online that provides good simulation of a certain family of animals. Or you may find online a nice library or framework that simulates the environment in a realistic manner. Depending upon the quality of software, you may definitely be compelled to use it.

But as soon as you download it and dive into its code you may be overwhelmed by its code. It may begin to sound like a labyrinth of objects and classes scattered all over the files. This may leave you clueless as to how to actually get a handle to it and finally use it.

Normally all good software comes with its associated design document. You may have access to the class and uml diagrams and a user’s manual. This can come in handy for you to be able to use the software. Normally all good software has design pa

Normally all good software also has design patterns applied to it as well. If you have the basic knowledge of how design patterns work, their basic functionality, and what purpose different patterns serves, you may find it very easy and convenient to manipulate your desired software.

Basically, design patterns are templates that you apply to your software during the design time. When you convert your software to code, finally, design patterns convert into patches and wrappers to your software. Normally they hide behind themselves the intricate details of objects they are applied to. As a result, they provide an easy to use interface to the developer. The developer, in turn, can use them to grab the desired objects.

Reusing already developed code cannot only be enticing, it can be very useful. There is loads of software that is present online that you can use to your advantage. But the most daunting aspect of the code that has been developed by someone else is to develop an understanding of it. Every developer can have his/her own peculiar style of coding. This can make it difficult for others to comprehend the code. If design patterns have been applied effectively, and if you have a decent knowledge of them and the so-called pattern language, it may become very easy for you to manipulate it. In turn, you may become a valuable software engineer.

Consider now the possible benefits you could have as a software engineer depending upon your knowledge of patterns and your coding skills.

  1. No knowledge of patterns and bad coding skills: With bad coding skills and no knowledge of patterns, your life as a software developer will be quite difficult. You may have to struggle a lot and even get fired from your position if you do not enhance your skills.
  2. Some knowledge of patterns and ordinary coding skills: Even with a little knowledge of patterns and ordinary coding skills, you will be able to manipulate off the shelf code really easily. I have argued about it above.
  3. Good coding skills and no knowledge of patterns: If you have good coding skills but no knowledge of patterns, you will again have to struggle when manipulating off the shelf code. You would be clueless as to what patterns have been applied to which part of the code.
  4. Decent knowledge of patterns and good coding skills: This is the ideal combination of skill levels to have. And the reasons are quite self-explanatory.

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